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Top 100 Best Places to Live

Our second-annual ranking of the best small to mid-sized cities in the U.S.

As Livability’s editors and writers crisscross the U.S in search of great stories, we find that time and again, the best tales are told in the Main Street diners, corner churches, park benches and even the mayor’s offices of small to mid-sized cites and towns. Far from letting time pass them by, these communities are doubling down on livability for their residents. Our second-annual ranking of the Top 100 Best Places to Live celebrates the work they are doing. As with our Top 100 Best Place to Live 2014 ranking, we worked with globally-known partners to analyze the best public and private data sources. We were advised by the leading thinkers, writers and doers in the place-making space. Some new places make the list, some move up or down and some continue to score well, no matter what the metric. More than 2,000 cities were ranked, so every city on this list is in the top 5 percent of livable communities in the U.S. Spend some time getting to know them, and when it comes time for your next move, maybe you'll think small.

600 = The city’s overall score, based on the weighted sum of the eight component scores.

  • 1705

    Madison Wisconsin

    Madison, WI Skyline

    Whether you drill down into our quality-of-life statistics or analyze the city's array of amenities, Madison stands out as's 2015 Best Place to Live. Both a capitol city and a hip college town, Madison provides residents with affordable housing, great schools, excellent health care and a wide range of recreational activities and entertainment options.

    See why Madison is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.


  • 2685

    Rochester Minnesota

    Rochester, Minnesota skyline.

    The founders of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester believed the city needed a vibrant arts culture to attract top physicians. Today Rochester attracts many young residents who quickly fall in love with the city's creative vibe. In addition to excellent health care, Rochester gives residents a stable economy, recreational assets and a large collection of restaurants and unique shops.

    See why Rochester is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 3680

    Arlington Virginia

    The downtown skyline in Arlington, Virginia.

    Known worldwide for Arlington National Cemetery that was established during the Civil War, Arlington is an upscale community whose largest employer is the Government of the U.S., with 34,000 employees. The median home price in Arlington is $600,000, and local students can attend classes at the campuses of George Mason University and Marymount University.

    See what Arlington is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 4679

    Boulder Colorado

    University of Colorado"“Boulder in Boulder, CO

    Situated along the Rocky Mountains and sitting 5,400 feet high is the city of Boulder, home to the University of Colorado and all its arts and culture offerings. Numerous outdoor attractions provide plenty of hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking opportunities, and Boulder has several shopping centers and great restaurants.

    See why Boulder is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 5679

    Palo Alto California

    Stanford's campus, open to all

    Palo Alto remains one of the best places to live, especially for those blazing the digital frontier. A 31-mile dark fiber ring around the city provides ultra high-speed Internet access. Schools and open spaces are highly valued in Palo Alto, which has a well-educated, politically active and socially minded population.

    See why Palo Alto is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 6672

    Berkeley California

    University Avenue in Berkeley, California.

    Once known for its hippie vibes, Berkeley is now revered for its food scene, which has landed the city on Livability's lists of top 10 foodie cities in 2013 and 2014. The town, part of the San Francisco Bay, is also home to the popular University of California campus and a wealth of cultural attractions including museums, galleries and theaters.

    See why Berkeley is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 7671

    Santa Clara California

    Loaded with parks, cultural institutions and historic architecture, Santa Clara offers residents an amazing package of amenities. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara's economy is driven by technology firms and Santa Clara University. Residents enjoy 300 days of sunshine a year and take advantage of great recreational facilities.

    See why Santa Clara is a Top 100 Best Place to Live

  • 8668

    Missoula Montana

    Clark Fork River Trail

    Nearby mountain ranges, three rivers and more than 400 acres of city parkland make Missoula an outdoor lover's dream come true. Home to the University of Montana, Missoula's breweries, coffee houses, cafes and restaurants create a unique, cool vibe. Independent bookstores, a symphony and music venues provide more entertainment options.

    See why Missoula is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 9665

    Boise Idaho

    Boise, Idaho skyline.

    With the Rocky Mountains close at hand, plus top-notch health care to keep families moving, Boise is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. But there's also a home for cerebral types in the “City of Trees,” thanks to unique museums and a strong university.

    Here's why Boise is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

  • 10665

    Iowa City Iowa

    Annual cultural events and a strong literary history with writers like John Irving and Flannery O'Connor have helped shape Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. The college community offers a hardy arts and entertainment environment along with good health care for residents, highlighted by Mercy Hospital and the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

    Here's why Iowa City is a Top 100 Best Place to Live


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From the Blog

Livability 100 Partners

  • The Martin Prosperity Institute is the leading think-tank on the role of cities on global prosperity.
  • Ipsos is a global leader in market and consumer research.
  • Esri is a leading provider of business intelligence data and GIS services.
  • Walk Score measures walkability as a factor in relocation decisions.
  • Great Schools provides data-driven comparison rankings of public schools.
  • Additional data provided by: U.S. Census Bureau, National Telecommunications & Information Administration, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, and the Vulcan Project at Arizona State University.